Arrow: Second Chances

Another solid installment in a fairly good season so far, which is a positive sign because the first half of most Arrow seasons are the weak point. This time the focus was on two new, strong female characters.

Tina Boland started off strong, and I liked how they didn't go the clich├ęd route with some of her introduction. She made her own choices, and wasn't afraid to jump in to situations where she might be outnumbered. She has a police background and a tragic backstory, and is also a meta-human with an actual canary cry. In other words, she has almost the exact origin story for the Black Canary, except for her name she is almost too perfect... Oh wait, her name is actually Dinah Drake. So they ultimately replaced the Black Canary with... the Black Canary. Funny that, I guess Laurel was just a four and a half year stand-in. (More below in my Comic Book Bits section.)

Mostly, the story centered around recruiting Dinah and the way each character handled that kind of situation. Rene spent most of the episode tagging along, unsure of why he was even on the team. Curtis spent most of it working tech and being a behind the scenes hero. Each of them had fun lines and some good character growth as they struggled with their places on the team. Rene in particular is starting to come to terms with the fact that he is basically a nut-job who got lucky as hell that Oliver saw his potential.

On the other hand, Felicity's plotline is getting a little fuzzy. While her work on getting a file from the government through hacking was the primary focus, her past has come back with a strange twist. A fan from Felicity's days as a hacktivist brought her a flash drive with the information needed for Diggle's release, but it was clear that drive had a lot more than just one file. Will Helix and Pandora come into play as a major plot? Or was this just a way of giving Felicity a character arc after her boyfriend was killed off?

With two major characters essentially introduced in this episode from comic book lore (Dinah and Talia), the next two sections will be a little longer than usual and potentially spoilery.

Flashback:

So it's pretty obvious they are holding off revealing Talia's full name for reasons, I guess, but she is very clearly Talia Al Ghul, Ras Al Ghul's daughter. A Batman mainstay and the mother of Bruce Wayne's only child, this character has a massively complex history that would be impossible to compile here. So I'll keep things simple. How does she relate to Arrow?  I think as a character she is fun, with a totally different vibe than I expected. She is almost coming off as heroic (which makes sense given how she is often introduced to Batman in the comics), and is also Yao Fei's teacher, which brings things full circle.

She is also a connection to Ras Al Ghul, which could fill in a plot hole that always bothered me. Why would Ras Al Ghul have such a strong interest in Oliver in the first place? It was mostly glossed over in the series, since Oliver is kind of a replacement in this universe for Bruce Wayne. Having that sort continuity makes total sense, and makes me wonder what sort of connections to season one we'll get in the next twelve episodes. Having Oliver don the green hood this early makes me both excited and a little concerned.

Comic Book Bits:

Dinah Drake's comic book origin is very confusing. Dinah Drake Lance was the name of the original Black Canary, which was changed after a DC crisis event to be the name of Black Canary's mother who was also a Black Canary. The one that was married to Oliver Queen for a long time was Dinah Laurel Lance, but that is also no longer in current continuity. I know, confusing, right. As a fellow critic loves to say, Comics Are WEIRD!!!

Basically, this new Black Canary is much truer version of the character as far as comic book origins go than Laurel ever was. Obviously with several years of plotlines with Laurel (that never really worked), several of the character's comic book origins are now impossible with this new character. But it looks like this one is permanent, guys. I don't know if she will become a cast member, but giving her the name Dinah Drake basically shouts out the fact that Laurel is never coming back, and with some decent chemistry between this Dinah and Oliver, we might get the DC power couple for real this time.

Bits:

The post-it note? Best Flash crossover ever... or at least the most adorable one.

While the reveal of Dinah's name was a little on the nose, I do like how they had her use a totally different name for her undercover work.

Talia is fairly old, which was is touched on in the episode without being explicit. That is both contrary and accurate to the comics as Nyssa is usually the older sister, but in some continuity Talia is very old.

Rene and his increasingly large Big Belly Burger was hilarious. BBB is now a staple throughout the Flarrowverse. I cannot remember if it is in Supergirl, too.

Quotes:

Oliver: "Nope."
Rene: "What do you mean, nope? Did you even read her resume?"
Oliver: "Yeah, I did."
Rene: "So you know she flew six hundred sorties over Iraq, launched a program for inner city kids to get into flight school as a way out of poverty, plus she's got skills in Krav Maga and a third degree black-belt."
Curtis: "If Top Gun here is a maybe, how the hell did I get on the team? Don't answer that."

Felicity: "If there is any trace of the file Dig needs, it going to be buried behind some serious firewalls. Actually, firewalls don't even begin to explain it. It's going to be more like fire castles or fire mountains..."

Oliver: "When have you ever known me to give up that easily?"
Curtis: "Never, the answer to that is never. Oh, that might've been implied."

Rene: "Now that's what I'm talking about."
Curtis: "You know I would tell you to chew with your mouth closed, but I don't even know how you could do that with this thing."
Rene: "Five stack, baby. Nothing better."

Is this the best season in a while? It kind of feels like it. I'm not sure I like the main villain, especially after a season with Damien Darhk, but everything else is very strong.

3 out of 4 Big Belly Burgers

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

4 comments:

Patryk said...

As far as Prometheus is concerned I stand my ground that the final reveal has not been shown yet. But I think the facts they know are kinda true. What if Prometheus is Talia Al-Ghul? After all Oliver did kill her father at the end of season 3 and dissolved his legacy - the league in season 4. Plus her appearence in the flashback would play into the past coming to haunt you theme and the creating your own demons thing in one weird loop, Talia creating the Arrow then the Arrow creating Prometheus.

They seem to have dropped the Viginante thing, but I hope it will come back and be resolved. It has to be the DA as we see him bending rules without hesitatiton to save Diggle in the past two episodes.

I agree this is the best season, I also agree that Darkh was awesome personality wise but I didn't like his magic powers that much. A villina using good old weapons and tricks feels better for the show.

tricksterson said...

What's WEIRD is DC's habit of changing their entire frikkin' multiverse at the drop of a hat.

Patrick said...

I like the new Dinah, I hope they decide to keep her around. I could've sworn at some point back when Laurel was in the middle of her run as Black Canary that one of the showrunners made an offhand comment suggesting that, like her sister, Laurel wasn't the final step in the legacy of Black Canary. Not sure if I want them to put Dinah & Oliver together romantically, though they certainly seem to be open to the possibility.

I'm still not a fan of Rene. He spends waaaaaaay too much time bitching & moaning, and it's getting old.

Lexa Doig was a great choice to play Talia, I can't wait to see where her arc is going. The idea that she might be Prometheus is definitely a possibility, though Lexa isn't very tall. Making her the one in the Prometheus costume might strain credulity. But it HAS to be someone whose face we'll have already seen, especially since I'm dead certain they've hired Michael Dorn to do his distorted voice, rather than give us the chance to figure it out.

Tim said...

Very happy to see the lovely Kasey Rohl as the Felicity-worshipping hacktivist. She's been great in Supernatural, The Killing, The Magicians and especially Hannibal (as Abigail Hobbs), amongst other things.